Does Kashmir need the Hurriyat and its leaders?

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A day after the Taliban started its spring offensive against the US-led NATO occupation in Afghanistan (April 28, 2017), Kashmir’s pro resistance leader Syed Ali Geelani released his book on the 20th century poet-philosopher Sir Mohammad Iqbal. It aptly summarises why Kashmir continues to be under the Indian military occupation for the past 70 years while Afghanistan is on the verge of throwing out the second super power in just 38 years.

Ten months earlier Kashmiri people were on the streets protesting in support of the militant activities, after Indian troops killed the Hizb-ul-Mujihadeen commander, Burhan Wani along with his two companions. Around 96 people were shot dead by the Indian forces, 15,000 were wounded, and a few hundred of them blinded with the indiscriminate use of pellet guns. But of all the killings, maiming and arrests of Kashmiris, the pro resistance leader, whom his lackeys often say is the revolutionary leader, choose to write on a poet who is irrelevant to the Kashmir conflict. It shows how much the Hurriyat is disengaged, disinterested and disconnected with the masses. It is not the first time that the Hurriyat has looked the other way when Kashmiri people were killed, maimed and arrested. After the first Raagda protests in 2008­–2010, instead of writing about the killings, Geelani released his autobiography! Head of another Hurriyat faction, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, also did his PhD on 14th century saint rather than on the Kashmir conflict.

Is it a wonder then that the Kashmiri people despite giving enormous sacrifices are still under the yoke of occupation?

When the armed struggle against the Indian state commenced in the late 80s, that time pro-resistance leaders raised emotions of the people by saying that azaadi is just a word away.  After 26 years Geelani in his address to the nation said, “Never before have we been so close to freedom with such clarity as we are now”.

But, when the Hurriyat took control by issuing calendar after calendar what were the objectives it was trying to achieve? It never said, in fact, it never had. The only thing that can be gleaned from their Hartal calendars is that they wanted to exhaust people, and as crisis manager help the administration in wresting control from the masses. This they did successfully as per its constitution.

 

Raising emotions and rhetoric are good for bhakts, but not for Muslims. But despite “Never before have we been so close to freedom” the fact is that Kashmir continues under the grip of military occupation. The Indian state hasn’t given an inch of land. The Hurriyat continues to dish rhetoric. Even sometimes it becomes difficult to believe that its the Hurriyat not some pro-India opposition party which has released press releases. Sample this: “Denying political space, choking genuine voices and continuous crackdown against pro-freedom leaders and activists are deliberate acts to disrupt situation and create uncertainty in (the) state”.

What does the Hurriyat mean “deliberate acts to disrupt situation and create uncertainty in (the) state”? Does it mean that the Hurriyat is creating stable conditions for the administration? Here is another example, after 93 percent voters boycotted by-parliamentary election in Srinagar-Budgam constituency, it was sure to spill over to even larger constituency of south Kashmir, but Geelani this time came to the rescue of the administration, and said, “We are sure that people will boycott upcoming elections being staged in south Kashmir constituency, but to halt current bloodshed, it is advisable for authorities to show wisdom and stop this mad process”. Few days later the election commission of Kashmir cancels election. Why should election cancellation concern the Hurriyat? Is the Hurriyat for the smooth functioning of the state? Why should it advise the administration what to do and what not to? Last year on July 20, an IAS officer from Kashmir, considered a poster boy of the PDP, wrote a piece in the “Indian Express”.  Writing on the Indian national channels how they are partly responsible for inflaming anger against the Indian state, he writes:  “I have no hesitation in saying that Zee News, Times Now, NewsX and Aaj Tak are at the vanguard of a movement that will take India from a dialogical civilisation to a dumb, illogical civilisation”. Exactly 10 days later the joint Hurriyat press note advises the people of Kashmir that barring Aaj Tak,  “(T)imes Now, Zee News and NewsX channels are misleading and poisoning the Indian public opinion regarding the events in Kashmir. Kashmiris should avoid watching these channels and boycott speaking to their correspondents or being part of their panel discussions”. Why was the Hurriyat helping the government in restoring order? Why is the Hurriyat acting as crisis manager?  The Hurriyat, like most analysts in Kashmir, tend to view discussions on the Indian media as state policy. Media is just a diversionary tactic of most democratic states. If Kashmiri people react to what is happening on the Indian media rather than on the roads what better digression than this. The Hurriyat, it seems, believes that they are not fighting for the independence of Kashmir but for mere power.  No day passes without the Hurriyat reacting to one or the other statement. Is the Hurriyat an advertisement company that should be in any media to sell its products?

Does the Hurriyat understand India?

Why has the Hurriyat since its inception failed to bring any policy document, or plan on how to fight with the Indian state? Why has it not been able to write anything on the Indian state? Wars, as has been observed throughout history, are won on the basis of understanding your enemy. The Hurriyat for all its rhetoric has never understood its enemy, and never ever tried to understand it. How is it possible for a poor country, such as India, to hold Kashmir for so long? The chief cheap response from the Hurriyat would be because of disunity among the ranks. What has the Hurriyat done to foster unity? If the whole Kashmir including pro-India politicians bond together how will the Hurriyat fight against the military occupation? In which occupied state there has been unity? But despite disunity most occupied states were successfully in throwing away occupation. The insanely rich and powerful states like the erstwhile the USSR, the USA were not able to hold Afghanistan and Vietnam. But here is India successfully holding Kashmir, and ward off three attempts of Pakistan to militarily capture Kashmir as well. No one in Kashmir resistance camp has written why India despite besieged with conflicts, poverty and untouchability, is successful in holding Kashmir. No one has done any post mortem on it.

If one looks around the bookshelves one finds a number of Indian authors’ books on Kashmir. In those books they delineate the Kashmir conflict, bring out details of communities, demystify things, demarcate people who are helpful for the Indian state, and also suggest ways for the state. Sadly, no Kashmiri writes about the Indian state. Almost all Kashmiri writers splash their write-ups with how poor Indians are. This way these writers try to shame India, but forget it is a universal shame for Kashmiris that they are incapable to get rid of such an occupier who is unable to provide food or sanitation to its citizens.

Does the Hurriyat have any policy document on how to defeat India?

To defeat an enemy one has to first understand it, and give it a respect that every enemy deserves. The same Indian state in Manipur, Assam and Meghalaya gives a monthly stipend and government land to rebels for holding on to ceasefire (Mother, where is my country by Anubha Bhonsle). What is India? How does it survive? What keeps it united? What pinches it? What makes it to fear? Who are its policy makers? Who are doves and hawks in the Indian establishment? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Which are the areas where it is vulnerable? Is India a monolith or comprises of disgruntled communities? Which things it fears: economic collapse or territorial loss? How one has to engage India in order to weaken it? Despite so many armed insurgencies going on in India it has not given an inch of land to anyone. What will make it to concede defeat? What makes India to click despite overloaded with tonnes of problems? How is India able to hold Kashmir? Who are furthering and supporting India’s cause in Kashmir?  How is the Hurriyat going to defeat a state which is militarily, politically, economically and influentially strong and unending? You cannot defeat an enemy unless you take note of his qualities.

The Hurriyat has obviously no such draft. Day in and day out they come out with statements reacting to media reports. In which way is the Hurriyat going to influence international community (since it always begs them to interfere): hard, soft, or smart power? Does the Hurriyat possess any of these?

When pro-resistance leaders should have written on India they are busy in releasing books on poets or writing autobiographies. When pro-resistance leaders should have commissioned their supporters or their own children to write books on the Indian state they in fact sit for job interviews. When the Hurriyat activist should have been writing the process of fighting the oppressive state and its machinery they are seen taking lunch with the PDP members. When the Hurriyat should have written resistance literature it casts aspersions on militant activities, and in businessman manner labels them pro-India gunmen who are out to malign the tehreek. It is not surprising. The Hurriyat fears that its shop maybe shut with the rise of militants who act in accordance with Islam and fight for the establishment of Khilifat. Twenty three of the Hurriyat’s existence it is not yet able to decipher: is the tehreek in Kashmir political or Islamic!

The same Hurriyat, whose constitution begs for the interference of the UN resolution, pleads in the name of Islam. But when some people or militants invoke Islam the same Hurriyat labels it terrorism or sectarian and distances itself from it!. This duel détente may work with the state since the latter is constructed on the bricks of hypocrisy, but will certainly backfire with the kind of militants that are emerging in Kashmir.

If you want to defeat any state first understand the system and mechanism under which it thrives. The Hurriyat leadership is unable to understand that in any democracy political leadership is there to implement military policy while as the military is used for political purposes. The failure of the Hurriyat is before the Kashmiris. These parties were formed for political purposes today they are restricted to condemn the arrests of their activists, and to delegitimise the militant struggle. The Hurriyat has failed Kashmir. It is time to give way, or get lost.

(The author is a resident of Kashmir. You can publish with us, send your writings to news@kashmirdispatch.com)